Negro Leagues Baseball Museum announces unprecedented ‘Hall of Game’ class for 2018

Now in its fifth year, the distinction of becoming a member of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s “Hall of Game” has been awarded to not four but five honorees in 2018.

Every summer since 2014, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., has given the distinction of becoming part of its “Hall of Game” to four players who embodied the spirit of the Negro Leagues. To celebrate its fifth class of inductees, the museum expanded the award for 2018.

On the list of five baseball players who will be celebrated at a ceremony on Saturday, June 9 are MLB greats Dick Allen, James Timothy “Mudcat” Grant, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray and James Rodney “J.R.” Richard.

Allen played for five MLB teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, claiming the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year and 1972 AL MVP awards. He was the first player in the modern era to hit two inside-the-park home runs in a single game.

Grant was the first African-American pitcher to win 20 games in a season in the American League. He was also the first African-American pitcher to record a win in a World Series game among AL teams. An All-Star in 1963 and 1965, he was the Sporting News‘ Pitcher of the Year for 1965 as well.

Lofton broke the AL rookie steals record in 1992 with 66 bags swiped, which was just the beginning of an illustrious 17-year career. The six-time All-Star won four Gold Gloves and led the AL in stolen bases five times.

Murray earned three Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger awards and was an All-Star eight times during his 21 MLB seasons. A 1983 World Series champion, his jersey was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1998 and he is a member of the very exclusive 500 home runs and 3,000 hits club. Those credentials helped earn him a Hall of Fame induction in 2003 on his first ballot.

Richard set a new Houston Astros franchise record in 1979 with 313 strikeouts, compiling a league-leading earned run average that season as well. After getting his first All-Star nod in in 1980, his career was tragically cut short by a career-ending stroke on July 30 of that year. Johnny Bench and Dale Murphy both went on record naming Richard as the toughest pitcher they ever faced.

All five inductees will be in attendance at Kansas City’s Gem Theater at 8 p.m. on June 9, tickets for which will go on sale on Monday, May 7 on the museum’s web site. Also in attendance will be Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Jackie Robinson, who will receive the lifetime achievement award named for her father from the museum.

2018’s Hall of Game class is special not only because of its size but also because the quality of each of its members. Fans who are in attendance should be treated to an unforgettable night.